Saturday, March 26, 2005

Memories of Godfrey Hewitt at Christ Church Cathedral, Ottawa

I was a member of the choir from 1963 to 1972. Mr. Hewitt was an important formative influence on me and the other boys in our generation.

The music he created became very important in our young lives. It was a great experience for me to sing with the great soloists of that period --- Bill Bowen and Garth Hampson. There is some record of how the choir sounded over the period as the choir made two gramophone records (the second partly recorded in the foyer of the Supreme Court of Canada). Mr. Hewitt also always recorded our annual performance at the Government House Christmas party and many other performances. I hope the tapes are preserved somewhere.

We also did some modest touring around Ontario to churches in Hamilton, Arnprior and Kingston.

A highlight of my time in the choir was the series of performances of Benjamin Britten's "Noyes Fludde" on a stage built in the Cathedral chancery and produced by Nicholas Goldschmidt in 1967.

I also remember well the Sunday morning in that Centennial Year when the Queen and Prince Philip came to the service and the power failed wreaking havoc with Mr. Hewitt's special musical arrangements in honour of the Royal presence. Godfrey took this unexpected development in his stride, of course.

In those years we had a strong rivalry with the choir of St. Matthew's then led by Brian Law. We used to take it out in our annual football match against them led as usual by Mr. Hewitt from the sidelines.

Aside from the wonderful musical and moral education that Mr. Hewitt offered us, there was a great spirit of friendship and fun among the boys and the men. Godfrey Hewitt set the tone for the wonderful institution that the choir was in the '60s and '70s. He engendered in all of us enormous affection and respect.

I entered university the year after I left the choir and studied in Toronto, Cambridge, Shanghai and Princeton. I have been a professor of political science at Brock University since 1989 with two periods of leave of the University from '91-93 and '98-2000 when I served as a diplomat at our Embassy to China.